ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹf a that ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Transparency starts with the controller

Let’s take another look at yesterday’s Citizens’ Voice, shall we?

On the cover we have the picture of our two indicted former judges with the caption relaying that the prosecuting feds feel the judges had been liquidating their ill begotten assets in advance of any charges.

On Page 2 we have the story about the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority levying a levee maintenance tax on property owners in a select few towns. Of course, none of this would be necessary in the first place if the county wasn’t bleeding red ink every single fiscal year. If the county wasn’t a giant financial feeding trough for the elected and appointed, I imagine the flood authority could be subsidized by timely transfers from the general fund. You know, the next to non-existent general fund.

What was it? The county expects to come up some $18 million short this year? Jeez! And when I was writing at that other Web site all those years, very many asked me why I rarely wrote about the goings-on at the county level. Why? Because nothing they did or do adds up. Literally!

Page 3, the judges "covering their assets" again.

Page 4 has the story of the guy who testified against a slew of others as part of an ongoing judicial “case-fixing” scandal. And it includes many references to organized crime, as well as former and current elected and appointed officials.

On Page 5 is the piece about the latest Wilkes-Barre Area School Board official to be indicted on conspiracy charges. The third member to be accused of wrongdoing, and the second board president in just three months.

Also on the same page we have the bit about the former Luzerne County Manager, about how one of his confidantes testified before a grand jury. Oh, and how the investigators seized county records that were removed from the county after the former manager jumped from a management position to a judicial position.

Oh, yeah. And the county’s debit card scandal garners yet another mention in print. And then there’s a mention of some shady contract procurement that seems to have gone on of late.

As of this moment, I haven’t even bothered to read today’s newspapers. What’s the point? Unless Barack Oblahblah got into a knock-down, drag-out fistfight with Joe Wilson, I kind of know what sorts of stories will dominate the first few pages of either newspaper. Right?

And as the general election date, November 3, looms on the calendar, I’m hoping that the residents of this county have had just about enough of this hanky panky. This outright thievery and arrogance on the part of the people that were supposed to be looking out for our best interests all this time…not theirs.

You could remind me that we need to support this latest Home Rule attempt. That we need to rewrite the county’s code. I’ve got no argument for that. But that sort of revolution, if it occurs at all, is still many, many months away.

In the short term, we need to remake this county from a cloistered and invite-only one-party system into a two-party system by electing Republicans.

I’ve never been one for reprinting press releases from political parties or candidates. But with that general election coming up, I have been doing exactly that. As far as I’m concerned, we need as many republicans thrown into this ethically and financially toxic mix as humanly possible. We need for the one-party death grip on this bass-ackwards county to come to an abrupt halt. It’s time to shake things up. And then some.

I think we need to vote for Carolee Medico Olenginski, as well as Register of Wills Candidate Gina Nevenglosky . Basically, we need to put a couple of the row offices in the hands of that other party promising us Operation HEART: Honesty…Ethics…Accountability…Reform…Transparency.

I want Harry Haas elected to the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board. I want a bright young mind, an educator, a person who seems forthrightly dedicated to the kids given a shot. Yes, for the first time ever, I guess I’m actually excited about and endorsing a candidate for the dreaded school board. Imagine that.

With all of that said, even if all of those folks went down to defeat when next we vote, I feel it’s absolutely imperative that we elect Walter Griffith to be our next county controller.

When first I mentioned that he just might be the right guy at the right time, one of my local blogging mates astutely made a reference to hell freezing over. Something or other.

Sure, there’s no denying that Walter and I have bumped electronic heads over the past few years, and I’ll share with you my chief complaint with Walter’s stated positions during that period. As it pertained to the operation of Wilkes-Barre and the proposed financing of the many high-profile projects under consideration, he had pretty much the same mindset no matter what. As far as I was concerned, he saw everything as an expense.

And I was here to remind him that while there are expenses, there are also legitimate investments. Investments in our future. And differentiating between the two would determine which course of action the city would be taking in the immediate future. It would go a long, long way to determining what the landscape of the city would look like, um, now.

Now, with the county’s fast-deteriorating financial condition what it currently is, I want that guy scrutinizing every expense the county incurs from January 2010 forward. I want my next county controller seeing practically everything as an expense, and not an investment. And with the county being so heavily leveraged and so completely bereft of cash, I seriously doubt we either need to or should want to consider many expensive, high-profile projects at the county level other than addressing the overcrowding at the county prison.

Well, that’s assuming the county could even afford to finance a high-profile project at this point without floating more bonds, or once again restructuring it's re-re-re-re-restructured debts.

I want some controlling going on. I want some overbearing financial oversight going on. And if that were to ruffle some feathers or cause some ill feelings under that courthouse dome, so be it. I'll take a few catfights on Page 1. I even invite a few missteps. But I want somebody taking the job of controller seriously.

Hell just might freeze over, but I’m thinking right guy at the right time. And if any resident of this horrified county would beg to argue with that, frankly, I’d be amazed.

Harry Haas nailed it when I half-jokingly asked him what his favorite color was. His answer?


And the way I see it, we’ll never have a county government that is truly transparent until we have someone scrutinizing every penny it spends.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why do you think the county is in the RED. This, year after year. Because every new political person that comes up through the party system, this means the go ahead from the county comm.. All of the people that fall into the fold. They all say this, I'm here now , keep the down south money coming and everything will go the way it has always been going down. You understand what this means. It means nothing will be changed at any point. Change only comes with force. Not the kind you think I mean, force on the election day. This county Gov. will go after the hard working people of this county. They will spend and spend. What has to be done is this. Stop the Luzerne county comm. college project. This college is not run in an way that we the citizens of this county can be sure the millions and millioms going into the health science program. Will be used in order to pump out more healthcare workers. Thats the main point, If we don't know if we will have more health care workers to show for the money than scrap the project. And take a look at Tom Leary , it may be time for him to go.